<%-- Page Title--%> Chintito <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 152 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 30, 2004

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Smile you are on camera


A Dhaka newspaper reported last week that a joint command of law-enforcing agencies waited for ninety minutes or so before they went for a crackdown on criminals in the Old City. Why? Because the television crew had not arrived any earlier! (Lalbaghe Santrashi Dhawra: Television camerar jonyo poolishi ovijaaner apekkha; Prothom Alo, 17 April 2004) What's 90 minutes when its show time? Ask any of our film and TV stars. Go on then, you can now even ask a policeman.

The reporter also quite unnecessarily narrated how one of the members of the joint force was busy combing his hair before a mirror in anticipation of the shooting; not to be confused with the one that makes noise and hurts. Just because he is a policeman does not mean that he cannot have a comb or a smooth front-to-back motion of the hand. Had he been bald that would have been amusing and perhaps news worthy, but in the serious business of the bahini there is no room for jokes.

At best Yours Truly is flabbergasted at the very angle of the news. When will our reporters get their priorities right? It is now 33 years. If anything in that absolutely routine incident, the news should have actually focussed on the intolerable delay of the TV channel and their impudence, call it insolence, in keeping the huzoors waiting; all dressed up for that matter. One wonders how many heads the owner of the private channel has on his shoulder. Has he so easily forgotten the fate of another?

Let us not forget that this fast progressing nation now has more than one private channel. The state has one private channel. At news time they all look like the state's private channel. And in keeping with the freedom of speech, there are some more in the wide pipeline, meaning they should be on air with ease within a very short while.

The least that should have been done against the management of the non-appearing TV channels is that they all should have been show-caused as to why a charge of non-cooperation with the state's anti-terrorism venture should not be brought against them. That's a pretty, meaning ugly, serious allegation with punishment ranging from delayed bail to US sanctions.

There is nothing wrong with law-enforces being shown on telly. Especially now since they all have new uniforms. It's making the other uniformed services GREEN with envy. One has to understand that the police need to beam the image to their kith and kin back home, or else come the next time they visit their relatives, they may be unrecognisable after having shed their blues. For all you know they may even be beaten up for mistaken identity. It hurts more if you are beaten up while a policemen.

The colours, the fabric and the design of their new getup are not only eye-catching, but it is clear that a lot of research and time; don't forget the money, has gone into them. But, finally we have something that is the product of detailed discussion and analyses. The green tops should help them to blend into the rural greenery when they want to camouflage against terrorist attacks, more so if they shed their blue bottoms. Who will notice in the jungle, tell me?

In the city they can take off their badges and pretend going to a wedding. In fact, a good number of policemen are not even wearing the uniform, as per newspaper and TV reports and pictures. They only look distinguished because they are carrying overweight arms. Reporters are polite in mentioning them as plainclothes policemen but in reality it could be that their only set of the new uniform has gone to the laundry.

Research has also established that the other uniform of another force that sports kat-kyata blue and yellow flowers shall be very useful in nabbing a lawbreaker. The assumption is that on seeing someone attired in such frock-like pattern one would almost die of laughing, criminal or not. Not a shot fired; no chance of death in police custody; the offender behind bars; things could not have been better.

However, things do not look that rosy elsewhere. BNP legislators have requested the Finance Minister "to suspend Annual Development Programme (ADP) allocations for the areas where local parliamentarians failed to improve law and order". (Cut crime, essentials' prices to get re-elected; BNP lawmakers ask Saifur in pre-budget talks; The Daily Star, 18 April 2004).

This singular masterpiece of a proposal has the potentiality to make us "feel good" (thanks to Unmoving Bihari Vajpayee) for the lack of development. The good news is that henceforth there shall be a valid reason not to send any funds to any area. The Bangladesh Bank goodam is sure to remain full what with terrorism Bangladesh-versal as never before. Prices are also likely to fall as the demand and supply curve is certain to become favourable.

There was also some fuss raised kha-ma-kha in the media about delayed succour to the tornado affected villages of Haluaghat and Netrakona, hit on 14 April. (Tornado biddhasto elakaye ek chattak chaal-o poucheni, chikitsha-o nei; Prothom Alo, 18 April 2004) (Schoolchildren beg in twister-torn Netrakona - Largely without food and water for five straight days after Wednesday's twin tornadoes in two northern districts, schoolchildren begged yesterday while most affected families continued to camp out...; The Daily Star, 19 April 2004) Arrey Bhai! One has to first take stock of whether terrorism prevails in that area, whether law and order has improved, whether the TV crews have set up camp, so on and so forth. You cannot just send food to anyone at any place. There is a system in place.

Since there is no business like relief business, and taking cue from history which has records of scores of ministers waiting and then smiling for the TV crew and camera before distributing khichuri during flood, there will probably be no shortage of showmanship even this time.

The problem is the media makes such hype when law-enforcers pose on camera; when it is a minister involved there is not even a too shabdo. Somehow you get the impression that the media is more scared of... (power failure)



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